In Porter, Manny Brock emerges from the saloon. Across the street, Jerry Kelso spots Brock and approaches him. He asks to talk to Brock, and mentions the name "Pearl Madson." When Brock tells him to beat it, Jerry says that he knows what happened that afternoon between Brock and Adan Madson. He advises Brock to get out of Porter, and warns him that if he's in Porter the next morning it will be for a burial. With that, Jerry walks off.
The next morning, hotel night manager Mike Kilroy is shooing guests away from Brock's room. Calhoun and Hoby arrive, and Calhoun confirms that Brock was shot once in the heart. Mike says that Brock was out of St. Louis and was staying three days on his current visitor. The night manager says that Brock was a drummer and a bit on the pushy side, and heard the shot 10-15 minutes ago. Mike finally admits that he was asleep and didn't see anyone. Hoby checks Brock's pockets and the closet, and finds Brock's order book and a wallet full of money. The Ranger figures that it wasn't robbery.
Hoby talks to George Haskins, the owner of the general store who ordered from Brock. When Hoby says that Brock is dead, George tells him that Brock was in the day before trying to sell him a knife sharpener and it's ironic. The store owner says that he didn't know Brock personally and told him not him not to flash his money. When Hoby asks if Brock was involved with any women, George finally says that Brock was involved with Pearl Madson, Adam's daughter. Hoby admits that Pearl had a reputation for being a fast worker, and George says that Pearl was planning on leaving town with Brock. Brock and Adam almost came to blows, and George admits that Adam said that he'd tear Brock's heart out if he ever saw him near Pearl.
Hoby rides to the Madson farm where Adam and Pearl live after having moved to Porter six months ago. Adam answers the door and invites Hoby in for lunch. He and Jerry, Adam's farm hand, are having lunch. Pearl comes in and then goes to get Hoby some coffee. When Hoby mentions Brock, Pearl bursts into laughter but says that it's nothing. Adam mentions the man's name and Pearl briefly laughs again before excusing herself.
Adam admits that he knows Brock but doesn't like him, and Jerry agrees. The older man says that Brock plans to walk off with Jerry's woman, and tells Jerry that he's afraid of the drummer. Adam admits that he had trouble with Brock because he wouldn't leave Pearl alone, and demands an explanation for Hoby's questions. Hoby says that Brock was killed and Jerry agrees. Adam laughs at the idea that he would have killed Brock if he had came near Pearl again, but says that he didn't and never left the house. When Hoby asks if he has an alibi, Adam orders Hoby out. Hoby orders him down to the sheriff's office, and Adam attacks him. The Ranger easily knocks the older man down. Pearl comes out and says Hoby shouldn't have done that, and says that she probably killed Brock.
At the sheriff's office, Hoby figures that there's something wrong even though he has Pearl's confession. Adam refuses to let Hoby question Pearl until they get a lawyer, and Hoby asks Pearl why she thinks that she killed Brock. Pearl laughs again, and Hoby sends Ralph to bring Calhoun to find out what's wrong with Pearl. Adam objects and Jerry agrees, and Adam tells Jerry that if he had done his duty then none of it would have happened.
Hoby talks to Adam alone in the next room and asks him if anybody in h is family has ever been insane. Adam takes offense, but Hoby points out that there's something wrong with Pearl and it shouldn't come out in court. When Hoby points out that Jerry will have to testify that he heard the confession, Adam casually threatens the farmhand's life, and Hoby demands answers. The farmer says that Pearl will talk and they go back to the office. Adam tells Pearl to tell Hoby what happened, and she says that she thinks that she killed Brock. Pearl says that she doesn't remember doing it, and Jerry tells Hoby that she couldn't have. Jerry admits that Pearl was with him walking during the shooting, much to Adam's surprise. Adam tells him that he'll flay Jerry if he does it again, and Hoby tells him to shut up. Hoby continues questioning Pearl, asking what kind of gun she used. She says that she used a little gun and doesn't remember where she got it.
Ralph returns with Calhoun, and Hoby has the doctor look at Pearl. He takes her to the back room but Jerry tells them to stop... and admits that he killed Brock no matter what Pearl tells them. Hoby demands an explanation, and Jerry says that he didn't like Brock. Adam tells Jerry to keep quiet until he gets a lawyer for him, and Hoby tells Ralph to lock Adam up. When Adam tries to fight, Ralph quickly knocks him out and drags him into a cell.
Jerry explains that he didn't think it would work on Pearl. He explains that he hypnotized Pearl and made her kill Brock. When they were walking, Pearl was upset that Brock wouldn't take her out of town with him. She said that she'd kill the drummer but didn't have the nerve, and Jerry hypnotized her into doing it. Calhoun admits that it could be done, and Jerry says that he gave Pearl the gun and told her to go to Brock's room and use it. Pearl laughs again when she hears Jerry mention Brock's name, and Jerry explains that he gave her a post-hypnotic suggestion to think Brock was funny so that she'd leave him.
Calhoun tells Hoby that he wants to consult another doctor before Jerry breaks the post-hypnotic suggestion. Jerry says that he sent away for a booklet and learned hypnosis from that, but he didn't think it would work. Hoby admits that he doesn't know what the law can do, and Jerry insists that he couldn't let Pearl go with Brock. He admits that he's not sorry Brock is dead, and Hoby tells him to hope that he can hypnotize a jury.
Two months later, Jerry was held on manslaughter and Pearl was placed on probation for three years. Calhoun visits Hoby and Ralph, and says that Pearl is doing fine. He explains that he's been doing some reading and confirmed that nobody can be made to do something they wouldn't want to do consciously. Calhoun figures that Pearl was willing to kill Brock. He then gives Hoby Jerry's booklet on learning hypnotism, and Hoby says that it'll only do him some good if he can make someone believed it all happened.
Written by Gadfly on May 8, 2017